Info for Health Professionals

Did you know that canola oil contains the least amount of saturated fat of any common edible oil? With just 7% saturated fat, canola oil is 93% healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The polyunsaturated fats in canola oil include the essential fatty acids alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, and linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. These fats are needed because the body cannot make them. Canola oil is also a good source of vitamins E and K and plant sterols, which may help keep the heart healthy.

Compare Common Culinary Oils

One dietary message for consumers has not changed in a decade: eat less fat. This advice aims to help millions of North Americans reduce their risk of overweight, obesity and diabetes. In recent years, a new message about fat has emerged - the type of fat in the diet is also important. Canola oil is the best blend of fats for good health.

Fats are made of smaller units called fatty acids. Canola oil is low in saturated fatty
acids. In fact, it is lower in saturated fat than any vegetable oil found in supermarkets today.

Why a little healthy fat is great with vegetables

A new study confirms the importance of eating vegetables together with a fat source, in order to absorb key nutrients such as beta carotene. Researchers at Ohio State University found that study subjects who consumed a salad made with avocado (high in unsaturated fat) absorbed seven times more lutein and nearly 18 times the beta carotene compared to the same salad with no avocado and a fat-free dressing.

A similar study looked at the impact of adding salad dressing with varying amounts of fat -- zero grams, 6 grams, or 28 grams -- to a garden salad. The first dressing, made with zero grams of fat, resulted in negligible absorption of nutrients. Absorption increased with the addition of the reduced-fat dressing, and was substantially higher when the salad was consumed with a full-fat dressing. The bottom line: Adding some healthy fats and oils to each meal can have a huge impact on the amount of nutrients absorbed.

What to consider when purchasing an oil for your kitchen

With dozens of different cooking oils on store shelves, choosing the right one for each culinary application can be confusing and intimidating. Here's what to keep in mind...

1. Functionality: For high heat applications such as sauteing, grilling, wok cooking and deep fat frying, choose oil with a high smoke point. Canola oil and peanut oil have smoke points of 396-414oF. Extra virgin olive oil, on the other hand, h and, may burn if heated above 325 degrees F, and flaxseed oil should not be exposed to heat at all.

2. Flavor: If you want oil to contribute flavor to the dish, you may want to try sesame, walnut, or extra virgin olive oils. If you don't want the ingredients in your recipe to be overshadowed, choose a mild tasting oil such as canola oil.

3. Versatility and Affordability: Many home cooks don't have room to store a dozen different oils or want to spend $20 or more for specialty oils. Canola oil will meet many needs in the kitchen but two or three different oils are useful to have on hand. Choose canola oil for high heat cooking, vinaigrettes and baking. Look to extra virgin olive oil for oil dips and vinaigrettes, and sesame oil for Asian dishes.

4. Nutritional Value: All oils contain the same number of calories but they deliver very different levels of nutrition. Check out the chart to compare the fatty acid profiles of popular culinary oils. You'll see that canola oil is the most nutritionally balanced oil - lowest in saturated fats, high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and second only to flaxseed oil in alpha-linolenic (ALA) omega-3 fats.

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